Zombies at Tiffany’s by Sam Stone

zombies at tiffanys cover

Zombies at Tiffany’s Blurb

Kat Lightfoot thought that getting a job at the famed Tiffany’s store in New York would be the end to her problems. She has money, new friends, and there’s even an inventor working there who develops new weapons from clockwork, and who cuts diamonds with a strange powered light. This is 1862, after all, and such things are the wonder of the age.

But then events take a turn for the worse: men and women wander the streets talking of ‘the darkness’; bodies vanish from morgues across town; and random, bloody attacks on innocent people take place in broad daylight.

Soon Kat and her friends are fighting for their lives against a horde of infected people, with only their wits and ingenuity to help them.

A steampunked story of diamonds, chutzpah, death and horror from the blood-drenched pen of Sam Stone.

My Review of Zombies at Tiffany’s

Zombies at Tiffany'sZombies at Tiffany’s by Sam Stone
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Zombies, steampunk and diamonds? I knew when I saw this book at the Sci-Fi weekender that I had to read it!

It’s set at the time of the American civil war where a zombie outbreak starts spreading in New York. Kat Lightfoot, a young woman who has just started working at Tiffany’s, takes refuge from the zombie hordes at work with a mismatched group of her colleagues and customers.

I like that Sam Stone has not followed the usual zombie rules, and has created something different and unexpected here.

The heroine is intelligent and interesting, and I cared about what happened to her.

The mix of steampunk and horror works well and results in a short, exhilarating read that I enjoyed every moment of.

Zombies at Tiffany's
Sam Stone
Steam Punk
Telos
2012
Paperback
185

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge Blurb

A sharp and funny urban fantasy for “new adults” about a secret society of bartenders who fight monsters with alcohol-fueled magic.

College grad Bailey Chen has a few demons: no job, no parental support, and a rocky relationship with Zane, the only friend who’s around when she moves back home. But when Zane introduces Bailey to his cadre of monster-fighting bartenders, her demons get a lot more literal. Like, soul-sucking hell-beast literal. Soon, it’s up to Bailey and the ragtag band of magical mixologists to take on whatever—or whoever—is behind the mysterious rash of gruesome deaths in Chicago, and complete the lost recipes of an ancient tome of cocktail lore.

My Review of Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge

Last Call at the Nightshade LoungeLast Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge, bartenders are all that stand between us and monsters called Tremens that roam the night, hunting feeding on people.

Luckily the bartenders have a secret weapon – magic powers they can gain by mixing perfect cocktails using specially distilled alcohol.

This definitely reminds me a lot of Buffy the Vampire slayer – a young woman that doesn’t really know where she’s going in life fights monsters while building friendships. That’s a good thing for me, and there are enough unique elements in here to give it it’s own personality.

I loved the diverse mix of characters and they had unique and distinct personalities. They brought the book to life and their interactions with Bailey were often entertaining.

Bailey isn’t the nicest person in the world, she isn’t instantly everyone’s best friend and the people around her don’t think she’s amazing. I kinda love her for this. She’s not a special snowflake and has to prove herself and work at her friendships.

My big problem with this book though is that it doesn’t go in much for explaining things. It’s quite short and mostly action, which makes for a fun read, but a bit of depth would have helped it all feel more real.

Bailey is an overachiever who has left university and lost all direction. It doesn’t go into why Bailey has gone straight home to her parents and not tried to get herself a job. It seems out of character for her, so it could have done with a bit more explanation for her motives for it to make sense.

While working for Vincent, Bailey seems to build a close relationship with him. This happens mostly off page though and it means that events later in the book aren’t as moving as they perhaps could have been.

The Tremens aren’t really explained either, what they are or where they come from. They just appear and the bartenders kill them.

So, in the end, this is a lot of fun, but look at it too closely and it might all fall apart. There is enough good stuff to make up for it though, and it’s well written.

If there’s a sequel I’ll be all over it.

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge
Paul Krueger
Urban Fantasy
June 7th 2016
288

A Blackbird in Darkness (Blackbird #2) by Freda Warrington

A Blackbird in Darkness

The Blurb

Ashurek, Medrian and Estarinel reach the legendary Blue Plane in search of help in their Quest against the terrifying Serpent M’gulfn, but their greatest struggle is yet to come. The Serpent lies in wait for them in the far frozen limits of the North – but it also threatens to destroy them from their very midst.

My Reviews of other Books in the Series

A Blackbird in Silver (Blackbird #1)
A Blackbird in Amber (Blackbird #3)

My Review of A Blackbird in Darkness

A Blackbird in Darkness (Blackbird, #2)A Blackbird in Darkness by Freda Warrington
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The second and concluding part to A Blackbird in Silver gets much darker and more intense. Ashurek, Estarinel and Medrian are on a quest for a powerful weapon to defeat the serpent M’gulfin, meanwhile, the rest of the world is falling under M’gulfin’s spell, and despair and hatred are winning the day.

All the characters have grown and changed in different ways, naive Estarniel is more wary and less trusting of others, Ashurek is more thoughtful and understanding. And Medrian shows us some emotion!

We finally learn Medrian’s story and why she’s set out to kill the serpent, and it’s everything I’d been hoping for. She was by far my favourite character in the last book and is even more so after finding out about her life.

I like all the rest of the characters too, even the side characters are flawed and complicated. None of them are completely good or evil and they all have their own reasons for what they’re doing, beyond ‘we need to save the world!’ or ‘we need to destroy the world’.

Especially Arlenminia who worships the serpent like it’s a god. She is convinced that the pain and suffering it brings is for the eventual good of humanity and refuses to listen to anyone who says anything against it. Scary for how realistic this is.

Not even the serpent is not completely evil, we see a very human side to its emotions. Scared and confused, he was attacked and injured by the Guardians and now he can only think of revenge.

The writing is simple but very readable, and I love the use of colours in the way the world is described.

The story does get a bit cheesy at times, but it’s a fantasy written in the 80’s and what seemed fresh then can be a bit cliche today.

I really enjoyed this book, and while I’m not sure I liked the conclusion to the story, I do think that it’s a good ending.

View all my reviews

A Blackbird in Darkness
Blackbird
Freda Warrington
Fantasy
January 1st 1986

Red Claw by Philip Palmer

red claw

Red Claw Blurb

Philip Palmer turns science fiction on its head in this breathtaking thrill ride through alien jungles filled with terrifying monsters and killer robots. Space marines and science heroes Gryphons and Godzillas It’s all here in this gripping tale of man versus nature.

My Review of Red Claw

Red ClawRed Claw by Philip Palmer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What I liked

Robots. Killer robots. Future tech. This makes me happy.

The funny dialogue – it’s like what people are actually saying to each other when you strip away all the fluff. I had a few little laughs at it.

It’s fast paced, and it stayed interesting. Just as I started to get bored something happened and everything was thrown up in the air.

I also found it easy to read, in fact, a couple of times I lost track of time reading it on my lunch break and had to rush back to work.

No one is safe, basically, all characters are fair game for a gruesome death scene.

The cover.

What I didn’t like

The humour – more often than not it is was too immature to be funny.

The science and technology was so far-fetched that I found it distracting. I kept stopping to think “but no, that’s impossible”. I get that it’s supposed to be daft but it broke my reading flow.

Far too much marvelling going on, we had people marvelling at marvellous things every other page sometimes.

Heavy handed criticism of war, soldiers, and the way the human race destroys other life for our own gain. It’s not a subtle book, and I felt like it was banging me over the head with it.

Red Claw
Debatable Space
Philip Palmer
Sci-Fi
August 11th 2008
451

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1) by Laini Taylor

Strange the dreamer cover

Strange the Dreamer Blurb

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries – including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

My Review of Strange the Dreamer

Strange the DreamerStrange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Strange the Dreamer is a book about dreams, about the things we wish for, and about dreaming of a better life for yourself. And yet again, Laini Taylor has swept me away with her beautiful, dreamy writing. I’m so overwhelmed by this book I don’t even know where to start with my review.

Lazlo spends his life daydreaming and reading stories about the lost city known as Weep. Lazlo is a bookworm who works in a library, but he’s a bookworm with a purpose. He spends his days searching for stories and information about the lost city known as Weep, a city he has been obsessed with since he was a child.

And when one day an expedition from the lost city appear, literally on his doorstep, to recruit a team of scientist and engineers, Lazlo sees his chance to make his dreams reality and actually visit Weep.

Sarai is a blue skinned girl that is living imprisoned in her (rather large) home, surviving with four other young people who use their magical gifts to keep themselves alive. One creates fire, another can bring rain clouds, and one can cause any plant to grow from the smallest of seeds.

But Sarai’s gift is something different, Sarai can enter people’s dreams.

And that’s how Sarai and Lazlo meet, in a dream world they create together, and I can’t tell you how beautiful it all is. Their romance is sweet and slow, and more than a little awkward.

Normally I’m counting down the number of pages in a book, calculating how soon I can start the next on my TBR pile, but this one I just didn’t want to finish.

I’m in love with the characters, with the world that Laini Taylor has built, and with the dreams Lazlo and Sarai create (and normally I hate dream sequences, I’ve given up on more than one book that has them in, I can’t stand the Disney Alice in Wonderland).

It’s a massive story, and when I think about it, it’s very complicated too. It didn’t feel that way when I was reading it though, it starts out with the story of Weep hidden, and the truth being revealed slowly as the story progresses. I liked this because I wasn’t overwhelmed with it all at the start, and the mysteries and secrets made it all feel that bit more magical.

The only sour note for me is that I think I’ve fallen out with it over the ending. How can it end like that? Why do I have to wait a year for the next book? I just can’t.

I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review

View all my reviews

Strange the Dreamer
Strange the Dreamer
Laini Taylor
Young Adult Fantasy
March 28th 2017
432

The Copper Promise (The Copper Cat #1) by Jen Williams

The Copper Promise

The Copper Promise Blurb

There are some far-fetched rumours about the caverns beneath the Citadel…

Some say the mages left their most dangerous secrets hidden there; others, that great riches are hidden there; even that gods have been imprisoned in its darkest depths.

For Lord Frith, the caverns hold the key to his vengeance. Against all the odds, he has survived torture and lived to see his home and his family taken from him … and now someone is going to pay. For Wydrin of Crosshaven and her faithful companion, Sir Sebastian Caverson, a quest to the Citadel looks like just another job. There’s the promise of gold and adventure. Who knows, they might even have a decent tale or two once they’re done.

But sometimes there is truth in rumour.

Soon this reckless trio will be the last line of defence against a hungry, restless terror that wants to tear the world apart. And they’re not even getting paid.

My Review of The Copper Promise

The Copper Promise (The Copper Cat, #1)The Copper Promise by Jen Williams
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Plot
Sebastion and Wydrin are sell-swords hired by Lord Frith to act as bodyguards while he investigates a ruined citadel. Rumoured to be haunted, no one with any sense will go anywhere near it.

It’s a refreshing and fun story, full of magic, adventure, fights and taverns! It has a lot going on, but it was easy to follow and didn’t get complicated enough to stop it being fun to read.

One issue I had with it though is that Sebastion and Wydrin are supposed to be renowned as two of the best sell-swords there are, but every time they got into trouble someone or something appeared out of nowhere to help them. If they’re so good at what they do shouldn’t they have been able to save themselves more?

Then at the end, everything is tied up quickly and neatly in the epilogue, and it all felt a bit forced. A lot happened to the characters and it didn’t show how they dealt with everything.

BUT there’s no cliffhanger! *happy dance*

Characters
This is where Jen Williams really shines, her characters are wonderful. Complex and diverse, and they bring the story to life with warmth and humour. Lifts the book way above standard fantasy fare.

Sebastion – more about his reaction to Gallo. A lot of things not resolved for him, lost the Knights, Gallo, and his connection to the Dragon’s daughters.

Wydrin – smart, clever and with a reputation that precedes her, she drives the story and brings a lot of humour in.

Frith – cold and focused on his goal of revenge. But he can’t help reacting to the warmth and life in Sebastion and Wydrin.

Pacing
It started out fast paced, but then it seemed to slow down in the middle. I liked this better because it meant I could get fully engrossed in the story.

The end went super fast though. You know when you have 20 pages left and you think the author can’t possibly resolve all this by the end of the book? And then they do, but it all flies past so fast that you’re not sure what just happened? I’m not entirely sure how their plan worked or what they were doing. I feel like I have to go back and re-read the ending to pick up bits I missed.

Writing
Loved Jen’s writing style. Humorous and lively, and it’s sensitive when it needs to be. Can I just say again how happy I am there is no cliff hanger?!

Overall
It’s not perfect but I enjoyed it, and it gives the fantasy genre a good kick up the bum. I will definitely be reading the sequel.

View all my reviews

The Copper Promise
The Copper Cat
Jen Williams
Fantasy
February 13th 2014
535

Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3) by Laini Taylor

Dreams of Gods and Monsters

Book Description

When Jael’s brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people.

But there are bigger threats than Jael in the offing. In the skies of Eretz  something is happening. Massive stains are spreading like bruises from horizon to horizon; the great winged stormhunters are gathering as if summoned, ceaselessly circling, and a deep sense of wrong pervades the world.

From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theatre that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy. At the very barriers of space and time, what do gods and monsters dream of? And does anything else matter?

My reviews of Other Books in the Series

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1) by Laini Taylor

Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2) by Laini Taylor

My Review of Dreams of Gods & Monsters

Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #3)Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The last book in the series got off to a slow start. I found it a bit overly dramatic, and it took me nearly 200 pages to get back into the story. The addition of an entirely new character that became very important to the story didn’t help, I felt like it was a bit late in the story to throw a new person and a new story arc into the mix!

I did like Eliza though, she was interesting, smart and funny. When the things settled down and got going how she fit into the wider story started to make sense.

And there was a lot of story crammed into the second half of this book. The war between the Chimaera and the seraphs was the focus of the first two books but this one seemed to move away from that into a bigger story about the fate of all the worlds. There had been hints of this dropped in here and there so I knew there would be more eventually but it was all resolved in what felt like a mad rush at the end.

But I still enjoyed reading this, I liked the story and the writing has been wonderful throughout all three books.

Supposedly a young adult book it has more intelligence and emotional depth than most adult books. It has a strong anti-war message, and even though it got too dramatic sometimes (all the feelings, all at once) and too caught up in trying to hammer home that message it does well at showing that war isn’t this honour and glory thing it is often portrayed as.

In fact, I’m putting it up there as one of my favourite fantasy series. I’ve been hooked on Karou’s story since I started reading. The writing is beautiful and the world’s Laini Taylor creates are rich and vivid and I’ve loved losing myself in them.

I even liked the way it ended, which is unusual for me with this kind of book. The romance between Karou and Akiva was handled well, but I wish they had more time together in the book. I’m sure they didn’t have one proper conversation all through it!

It’s a series I’m going to keep on my shelves and I’m already looking forward to re-reading it.

View all my reviews

Dreams of Gods & Monsters
Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Laini Taylor
Young Adult Fantasy
March 26th 2015
613

The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams (The Winnowing Flame Trilogy #1)

the ninth rain

Book Description

Jen Williams, acclaimed author of The Copper Cat trilogy, featuring THE COPPER PROMISE, THE IRON GHOST and THE SILVER TIDE, returns with the first in a blistering new trilogy. ‘An original new voice in heroic fantasy’ Adrian Tchaikovsky

The great city of Ebora once glittered with gold. Now its streets are stalked by wolves. Tormalin the Oathless has no taste for sitting around waiting to die while the realm of his storied ancestors falls to pieces – talk about a guilt trip. Better to be amongst the living, where there are taverns full of women and wine.

When eccentric explorer, Lady Vincenza ‘Vintage’ de Grazon, offers him employment, he sees an easy way out. Even when they are joined by a fugitive witch with a tendency to set things on fire, the prospect of facing down monsters and retrieving ancient artefacts is preferable to the abomination he left behind.

But not everyone is willing to let the Eboran empire collapse, and the adventurers are quickly drawn into a tangled conspiracy of magic and war. For the Jure’lia are coming, and the Ninth Rain must fall… 

My review of The Ninth Rain

The Ninth Rain (The Winnowing Flame Trilogy, #1)The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jen Williams has written a wonderful fantasy book here, with a cast of warm and lively characters.

Lady Vintage is a travelling scholar, researching the remains of what appear to be alien ships that crashed to earth in a failed invasion attempt. She has a strong and kind personality and she doesn’t let problems stop her, almost refusing to acknowledge them. Vintage is still mourning the loss of her Eboran friend (lover?) Nanathema who disappeared 20 years ago.

Tormalin is an Eboran who Lady Vintage has hired to help and protect her on her travels. Tormalin left his home in Ebora 50 years ago to escape the Crison Flux disease that is slowly killing his people.

Noon is a fell-witch, drawing on a life source she is able to summon green fire. Fell-witches are feared and hated and she has been locked in the Winnory prison since she was young. This is a horrible place that mistreats the women and houses in squalor while profiting from their witch talents.

The story and the world Jen Williams has created has some original and inventive ideas, making it stand out from the bog-standard fantasy norm. She has included some diverse characters too, and the women aren’t just damsels in distress but major players in the story.

There’s a lot to the story, but information and clues are fed to us slowly allowing us to build our own picture of the world and make guesses at what is happening. There are no big information dumps here!

While I liked the story, the characters are what make this book so enjoyable. Their relationships and banter are funny and intelligent and they all just sprang to life in my mind.

The magic, monster fighting and witches that fly on giant bats just make it even better!

The Ninth Rain for me is the book equivalent of a warm blanket and a big cup of tea or snuggling with my partner. It left me with a warm, happy feeling after reading it.

I’m not happy about having to wait for the next book. I had to go out yesterday and buy the first one of The Copper Cat series to keep me going.

I received a free copy from the publisher in return for an honest review.

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The Ninth Rain
The Winnowing Flame Trilogy
Jen Williams
Fantasy
February 23rd 2017
544

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1) by Laini Taylor

Book Description

“Errand requiring immediate attention. Come.”

The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. ‘He never says please’, she sighed, but she gathered up her things.

When Brimstone called, she always came.

In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she’s a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in ‘Elsewhere’, she has never understood Brimstone’s dark work – buying teeth from hunters and murderers – nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn’t whole.

Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.

My Reviews of Other Books in the Series

Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2) by Laini Taylor

Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3) by Laini Taylor

My Review of Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1)Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I absolutely loved this one, I finished it in around a day. It’s a beautiful novel and the setting of Prague adds a layer of atmosphere that makes it even richer. I could imagine myself there while I was reading. I’m visiting Prague for the first time early next year so I was making a list of places to visit while I was reading!

The first half of the story moved between Prague and the chimaera Brimstone’s shop, a place reached by portals, where human teeth are exchanged for magic wishes. Karou was raised by Brimstone and now she runs errands for him out in the human world where he can’t go.

I loved how Karou was described, a tattooed art student living in Prague who has wished her hair blue and fills her sketchbooks with drawings of ‘monsters’ from Brimstone’s world, and her friends from the human world. She could easily have tipped over into being too perfect but Taylor gave her enough flaws to keep her realistic; falling for an arrogant actor and wasting magic wishes for trivial things like her hair colour and getting the table she wants in a cafe.

The second half of the book introduces a Romeo and Juliet style romance between Karou and Akiva, an angel warrior. The story takes off in a new direction as we learn the truth behind who Karou is, and while I was a bit disappointed it moved on from Prague and Brimstone’s shop, it still held my attention.

It has a serious cliffhanger ending, and I seriously can’t wait for the weekend so I can go out and get the next book in the series.

View all my reviews on GoodReads

Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Laini Taylor
Young Adult Fantasy
August 5th 2012
420